Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Sarah Bolger, Robbie Coltrane, Stephen Fry, Damian Lewis
Director: Geoffrey Sax
James Bond eat your heart out! Enter Alex Rider!
Following the death of his parents, Alex Rider (Alex Pettyfer), a 14 year-old London school boy brought up by his uncle and guardian Ian Rider (Ewan McGregor) a supposed bank manager, is drawn into the world of espionage and recruited by MI6 after questioning the mysterious circumstances surrounding his uncle’s sudden, tragic and untimely death.
Alex’s initiative and single-minded determination to investigate Ian’s death leads him to a breakers yard where Alex sees for himself the bullet holes punched into his uncle’s wrecked sports car that he wasn’t supposed to find. The resulting fracas earns him a visit to his uncle’s ‘bank’ near Liverpool Street station in the city where he learns the truth about Ian and is subsequently recruited to MI6 by Mr Blunt (Bill Nighy) and his deputy Mrs Jones (Sophie Okonedo) followed by some intense but short survival training.
Alex’s first mission is to continue Ian Rider’s covert operation on the trail of the ‘Stormbreaker’ virus, masterminded by billionaire Darrius Sayle (Mickey Rourke) whose base of operations is an old mine on the Cornish coast. Denied the use of firearms, Alex is kitted out with some ingenious gadgets by MI6’s technical gizmo expert Mr Smithers (Stephen Fry). Then under the guise of a teenage computer nerd and winner of a competition, Alex travels to Cornwall to test Sayle’s Stormbreaker software program before its grand launch by the prime minister (Robbie Coltrane) to every school in the UK in two days time at the Science Museum in South Kensington, West London. Alex is in a race against time to expose the dastardly Sayle and his evil plan of annihilation.
Bursting at the seams with action, don’t miss the Bond-like opening which sets the blistering tone of the movie as Ian Rider tries to evade his attackers when his cover is blown on what becomes his last mission as an MI6 operative – not the nondescript bank manager away on business that everyone believes him to be. This is an excellent car / helicopter chase stunt sequence as hired assassin Yassen Gregorovich (Damian Lewis) is in hot pursuit. Reminiscent of Ewan McGregor’s performance in the futuristic actioner THE ISLAND, his performance here easily matches that of James Bond as does newcomer Alex Pettyfer’s. Despite being a reluctant spy Alex Pettyfer continues the action with many original stunt sequences. These include his opening mountain bike chase, the martial arts rope stunt (that reminded me of Jackie Chan’s skills) and the one involving the Queen’s Household Cavalry while riding a galloping horse through the streets of central London. I could go on but you’ll have to see the rest for yourself!
As in the Bond movies STORMBREAKER has a strong contingent of beauties. Alex has a fellow female school friend who takes an interest in him in the form of Sabina Pleasure (upcoming actress Sarah Bolger) while Alicia Silverstone plays his young, attractive and sometimes eccentric housekeeper Jack. It’s down to Sayle’s perfectly poised assistant Nadia Vole (convincingly portrayed by Missi Pyle) to match the evilness of her employer while Sophie Okonedo shares ‘M’s’ boots at MI6
It should be noted though that STORMBREAKER is based on the novel and even though author Anthony Horowitz has also penned the screenplay for the movie version, there are several spectacular stunts that appear in the movie but not the book and vice versa. The stunts alone though will have most of the fans of the Alex Rider novels riveted to the screen by their escapism, tenseness and originality. Alex Pettyfer really gives an outstanding performance in the central role capturing the dynamism and sheer excitement that’s in the novel and successfully transfers it to the big screen. And don’t forget all those gadgets too!